You are here:--Meet the 2014 DC/Maryland/Virginia Nursing Excellence GEM Awards finalists

Meet the 2014 DC/Maryland/Virginia Nursing Excellence GEM Awards finalists

Each year, calls upon our readers to nominate exceptional nurse colleagues for our Nursing Excellence GEM Awards program. For more than a decade, we have received thousands of entries that contain stories of phenomenal nurse leaders, mentors and clinicians. This year has been no different. The nurses nominated for our 2014 Nursing Excellence GEM Awards program have proved true nursing excellence is alive and well.


Laura Anderko, RN, PhD: Robert and Kathleen Scanlon Endowed Chair in Values Based Health Care, Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, Washington, D.C.

Along with her academic appointment, Anderko serves as chairperson of the Robert and Kathleen Scanlon Endowed in Values-Based Healthcare, a position serving the four departments, including international health, health systems, human sciences and nursing. Her mission is to keep social justice at the forefront of the public health field, a goal she accomplishes to an extraordinary degree, said her nominator.

She oversees the Center for Health Equity-Research, Implementation and Teaching, which provides a place for students, faculty and staff to work together on community service and community-based learning and research. Anderko prepares the next generation of public health and primary care nurses to provide equity-based nursing care to underserved and vulnerable populations.

Well-respected by her colleagues and students, Anderko teaches and designs curricula supporting value-based nursing and environmental justice and contributes to the creation of documents that guide nursing practice in environmental health. She created an Environmental Health master’s degree program, a certificate program and a minor in environmental health.

In collaboration with the Georgetown Center for Social Justice, Anderko developed opportunities for students to work with organizations and communities to reduce health disparities, for which she was awarded the best community-based/service learning course. In partnership with the DC Department of Health, Anderko and students published the first health disparities report card, used to benchmark accomplishments of Healthy People 2020 goals.

Her coauthored publications on environmental health principles for public health nursing and a standard of practice in environmental nursing have widely influenced nursing practice. She has participated in research examining the health problems associated with environmental factors, and recently she has been studying the characteristics and benefits of healthy and green environments.

Anderko shares her knowledge with advisory boards and policymakers, has served on renowned agencies and associations, presents at national and international conferences and was selected by the White House as a champion of change for public health and climate change.

Mani Murugavel, RN-BC, DNP, NE-BC, CSSGB: Patient care director – nursing, Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, Alexandria, Va.

As patient care director of the medical oncology infusion unit and dialysis units, the IMCU, CCU and respiratory, Murugavel is a true role model for the nursing profession.

With more than 100 direct reports, Murugavel maintains a calm demeanor, works hard to keep all units’ productivity on target and ensures that they have adequate staffing to provide safe and excellent patient care, said her nominator.

A compassionate and soft-spoken person, her work speaks for itself. Described as a true transformational leader who cares for her staff and patients, she makes numerous contributions in care delivery and has led and participated in a number of Kaizen events.

Murugavel created a positive unit change by bringing together a team of nurses, unit secretaries, clinical technicians, physicians, case managers and pharmacists, and as a result of the collaboration, multidisciplinary rounds were developed and successfully implemented. Interdisciplinary communication improved, patient satisfaction scores soared, and the unit was ranked fourth in the Inova Health System for great improvements in the patient experience.

Murugavel’s latest initiative focused on helping each discipline streamline its work by standardizing daily tasks. After bringing teams together to discuss responsibilities, she set up standard work processes for each shift. Murugavel was recognized for her efforts in Lean, Patient Experience and Staff Well-Being and was asked by the CNE to present her work, which was featured on the organization’s home Internet video clip.

Recognizing that quality, service and cost containment are crucial, she has worked closely with the quality department on core measures. As director of the IMCU, she developed process measures to ensure patients with core measures receive excellent care. As a result of her leadership, Inova Mount Vernon has met and sustained a goal of 97% perfect care.

Lorrie St. Laurent, RN, MSA, BSN, CEN, CCRN: Charge nurse emergency services/stroke program co-chairperson, Inova Loudoun Hospital, Leesburg, Va.

Recognized as a multi-talented and multi-focused professional, St. Laurent takes every opportunity to educate others, maintain her own level of professional education and advance nursing practice through empowerment. As a leader who encourages learning and makes it readily available, she creates a path for success for those in her department, according to her nominator.

With a leadership style that is open, fair and respectful, St. Laurent serves as an excellent source of knowledge, clinical expertise and support, said her nominator, and as an expert in emergency nursing, she portrays a strong commitment and self-confidence in practice that empowers the team to strive for excellence.

Certified in both critical care nursing and emergency nursing, she teaches numerous courses through the Emergency Nurses Association, both in the hospital and the community, and when the ED was awarded grant money to support staff education, St. Laurent organized an onsite certified emergency nurse review course.

St. Laurent participates in professional practice committees and validates staff on the annual glucometer point-of-care testing competency. As a member of the stroke team, St. Laurent provides direct support to the stroke team nurses, monitoring the time for strict adherence to American Heart Association criteria for improved outcomes, auditing charts in real-time to meet documentation criteria and developing patient education materials. She attends hospitalwide stroke committee meetings, assumes monthly on-call duties and serves as a resource to any nurse caring for stroke patients. Her tireless commitment to the team has resulted in the AHA Gold Plus Award recognition for the hospital and improved outcomes for the community.

Giving of her time to numerous community projects and school functions, she recently recruited a team of nurses, doctors, physicians assistants and nurse practitioners to run a sports physical clinic to benefit athletes and the sports programs at a local high school.

Elizabeth Winston Tordella, RN-BC, MS: Registered nurse, clinical V, Suburban Hospital, Bethesda, Md.

Described by her nominator as compassionate and engaging, Tordella is a true patient advocate and is considered a subject matter and clinical expert for behavioral health issues.

As a second-degree nurse, she brings a wealth of experience when working with her colleagues and possesses excellent communication skills and a can-do spirit, said her nominator.

Tordella restructured treatment protocols to ensure the use of evidence-based practice protocols and implemented EBP for alcohol and opiate detoxification throughout the hospital. She has presented clinical programs on the unit and in the hospital and community on subjects like code green, agitation medications and psychiatric emergency management. In addition, she has updated the policy and procedure manual and developed and authored the behavioral health newsletter. Tordella initiated the hospital’s unit-based council and prepared the mission and vision statements, guidelines and position description, involving staff in addressing safety and environmental issues and medication education.

She is the point person on behavioral health services for the EPIC project and has organized staff input as the process evolves. Because she can see the big picture, Tordella handles the system issues effectively, meets targeted timelines and is building a team of superusers to train staff.

Respected by administration, supervisors, colleagues and others for her clinical knowledge and leadership skills, Tordella was a vital team member and supported staff and leadership during the last JCAHO and CMS visits.

Tordella is described as someone who is multitalented, insightful and willing to give freely of her time and talents. She is a PhD candidate in health policy at the University of Maryland, is actively involved in the facility’s research council, is a member of the Maryland Nurses Association board of directors and represents the MNA-district 5 to the board of directors. With all of that, she still finds time to volunteer in community programs.

Karen Lynn Yarbrough, RN, MS, CRNP: Stroke programs director, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore

Yarbrough is responsible for developing and managing programs that support the Stroke and Brain Attack Center. She is an avid patient and nursing advocate and staff educator, and her collaborative skills knows no bounds, said her nominator.

Yarbrough believes in the empowerment of nursing to own quality improvement and clinical outcomes, and she is known for her ability to build consensus and strengthen team initiatives. Her influence extends throughout the hospital as well to about 40 community hospitals, where she is considered a go-to resource for all things stroke.

She has superior knowledge of all facets of clinical stroke, stroke systems of care and the regulatory environment in which stroke services are provided. Yarbrough possesses excellent interpersonal skills, enjoys mentoring a broad spectrum of healthcare providers and most recently brought them together in the bid for Joint Commission Comprehensive Stroke Center accreditation.

She has taken numerous opportunities to advance the profession of nursing as the AACN clinical nurse specialist consultant for Maryland and Delaware and the AACN clinical nurse specialist for the AACN National Committee for Progressive Care. She was the chairperson of the Nursing Education Committee of the Maryland Stroke Alliance and is an executive member of the Maryland Stroke Alliance. She is a member of the Maryland Institute of Emergency Services Stroke Quality Improvement Committee and has presented numerous local and national lectures and nine poster presentations related to stroke care best practices.

Her clinical and academic work is extraordinary, according to her nominator. Yarbrough has been a co-investigator of more than 16 research projects as well as five grant awards. She is innovative in seeking novel solutions to complex problems, such as optimizing post-hospital outpatient follow up of stroke patients, and she has been recognized nationally for her expertise by the Joint Commission as well as by the American Stroke Association.


Claudette Coderre, RN, CPN: Registered nurses III, Children’s National Health System, Washington, D.C.

As a staff nurse on a pediatric unit that serves children with medical and pulmonary diagnoses, Coderre has made countless contributions to patients and families over the years. She is the consummate professional nurse who is a credible source of information and advice on the unit and within the organization. When asked the hypothetical question, “If you were a patient or your child was sick in the hospital, who would you want to be your nurse,” her colleagues always answer “Claudette!” Colleagues say that when they have the pleasure to watch Coderre interact with patients and their families, they are always in awe.

Always willing to listen and answer questions, Coderre is a great role model and an inspiration to be a better nurse and a better person. She strives to ensure patient safety through excellent documentation and by role modeling safety behaviors in her practice. She questions the status quo and make changes to improve the environment for patients, families and nurses. Coderre has adapted to technology demands and takes the extra time to ensure her documentation is thorough and complete, and she will finish complex patient teaching before a discharge with a family she has built rapport.

Coderre is active in shared nursing leadership, and as a mentor, she gives advice to preceptors and charge nurses, who value her opinion and expertise. She goes above and beyond to ensure that new graduate nurses or experienced nurses new to the facility have the knowledge they need to be successful in delivering patient care.

With several generations of working nurses on the unit, Coderre understands the various viewpoints and style differences and embraces the qualities of the millennium nurses. Described as someone who possesses an exceptional bedside manner, a positive attitude and is respectful, she is an exemplary team player.

Nancy Marie Corbitt, RN, BSN, OCN, CRNI: Senior clinical nurse, II, University of Maryland Medical Center & Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, Baltimore

Corbitt is an expert clinician and resource. According to her nominator, if a practice question arises, nurses on the unit will say, “Ask Nancy. She’ll know the answer.” She leads many educational initiatives for her unit, the cancer center, the medical center and the community.

Corbitt is driven not only to be the best nurse she can be, but “to give the rest of us travelling in her wake the opportunity and challenge to be better,” said her nominator.

As a strong patient advocate, Corbitt possesses excellent communication skills and resolves any miscommunication between patients and healthcare providers. She is never intimidated or afraid to speak up for her patients and is recognized as an outstanding role model to others.

Corbitt always seeks and finds a new challenge. In the past several years, she has attained her BSN, achieved promotion to senior clinical nurse II, received her CRNI certification and was selected as president of the local Oncology Nurses Society chapter. She is writing test questions for the new ONS Chemotherapy Biotherapy Administration course, serves as Web administrator for a special interest group on neutropenia within the ONS and is a peer reviewer for the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. She is also an active member of the Infusion Nurses Society and National Nurses Staff Development Organization. At the cancer center, she co-led a complete revision of the process used to assure that nurses are competent to administer chemotherapy.

Corbitt successfully rebuilt the orientation and preceptor programs and she reviews them regularly to find better experiences for the novice RNs. She co-designed and leads a two-day course for hospitalwide nurses and staff who want to learn more about oncology nursing and disease processes. Her commitment does not end when orientation finishes; she coordinates and leads a class to help them attain their own credentials as oncology certified nurses.

Maria Elizabeth Eckart, RN, BSN, CIC, SD-CLTC: Clinical education specialist/corporate infection control & prevention specialist, Genesis HealthCare – East Division, Towson, Md.

Eckart is responsible for education in the Maryland nursing centers and all infection control for Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina. She reports and analyzes infection control and outbreaks and oversees the vaccination programs. As a member of the Genesis Infection Control Practice Council, she writes the company infection control policies.

Described as a key link to the success of the organization, Eckart is considered an infection control expert. Because of her efforts, the company’s reports on outbreak times and subsequent reports are timely. Her colleagues from the Maryland Health Department say that Eckart works collaboratively with the medical and nursing staff to uphold infection control processes.

Based on her quality review audits, changes have been made in the infection control measures as a direct result of her education and oversight. Her tracking and trending tool for infection control is now companywide and produces more accurate analyses and baselines.

She has served as past president, treasurer and secretary of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control, Delmarva Chapter 113, and holds the long-term care seats in the Maryland and Delaware Health Care Commissions. Involved in prevention of statewide hospital-acquired infections, Eckart was the first regional nurse educator in the company. Because of her success in the role, there now are 20 educators in this position nationwide. Based on her expertise, she also serves as a liaison to the local state health departments.

Eckart teaches outbreak management in the long-term setting and successful characteristics of a long-term care infection preventionist. In the community, Eckart speaks at various infection control programs and participated in an article for AMDA, identifying the differences in long-term and acute care. She has maintained her certification for infection control and is certified in staff development for long-term care.

Marcie Jo Kelleher, RN, MSN: Nurse responder, MedStar Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center

In her role as team leader in rapid responses, Kelleher brings an extensive clinical knowledge base, impressive assessment skills and a unique ability to guide physicians and nurses through the care of critically ill patients, said her nominator.

She in an original member of the nurse responder team, and her leadership and skill have been instrumental in making the nurse responder team a success. She remains calm during an emergency while working to ensure excellent patient care. According to her nominator, the team has successfully implemented an approach to medical emergencies that often preempts a transfer to a higher level of care, resulting in an impressive impact on patient outcomes.

The Code Blue numbers have dropped from an average of 30 a month to 10 a month as a result of the work of the nurse responder team. Kelleher has worked closely with the team to pilot a severe Sepsis Screen that is performed with each rapid response as well as through automatic alerts from the computerized system. This screening has resulted in early identification and intervention for patients who would likely have required emergent care, and as a result, Kelleher has received numerous written commendations from her colleagues.

Kelleher takes great pride in the team and works tirelessly to ensure that the processes are standardized, optimizing staff time and improving patient outcomes. She is a lead preceptor for newly hired staff, helped develop the new hire orientation manual and worked with the department of design and construction to ensure adequate work space for the response team.

Kelleher has coordinated several sessions for staff interested in the nurse responder role, worked with the informatics team through the latest phase of the electronic medical record and developed a self-learning module to educate the facility staff on the role of the nurse responder team.

Young Nguyen McCollum, RN, BSN, CMSRN: RN 4/interim nurse manager, Inova Alexandria (Va.) Hospital

McCollum is a shining example of a caring and competent leader on a 52-bed med-surg unit, said her nominator. Her tenacity and work ethic is second to none, and she is admired for her ability to advocate for her colleagues and patients. She is described as an outstanding professional who is collaborative, accountable and professional.

Respected for her clinical expertise, McCollum serves as a strong leader and a resource for questions about policy and patient care. She is often the person selected to lead safety huddle and she always takes the time to recognize staff members for their exemplary work and accomplishments.

Well respected by clinical technicians, nurses and physicians, she looks at the bigger picture when it comes to patient care and optimal work flow, and her participation in hospital committee activities have made her an invaluable resource to the unit, patients and interdisciplinary team.

The unit was selected to pilot and initiate the system’s care delivery model, and McCollum was instrumental in its success and subsequent rollout to the hospital system. Part of the model involved initiating a new, patient-centered rounding at the bedside, and this, as well as the use of white boards and discharge planning, have helped increase quality indicators and satisfaction.

As a member of the hospital’s shared governance model and secretary on her unit’s clinical practice council, she has helped initiate nurse-driven, evidenced-based practice, such as Transforming Care at the Bedside. She encouraged clinical technicians to attend the hospital’s academy, which resulted in improved staff morale, patient/clinical technician relations and technician performance.

As a unit representative of the hospital falls committee, McCollum has worked diligently to help reduce and prevent patient falls. As the unit’s pain and palliative care resource nurse and a member of the hospital pain committee, McCollum serves as a tremendous resource.


Elizabeth McKinnon, RN, BA, ADN, BEN: Registered nurse, Inova Loudoun Hospital, Leesburg, Va.

McKinnon’s true passion is to contribute to the professional and educational development of new and experienced staff nurses. Along with her role as charge nurse, she serves as preceptor and mentor, ensuring that ED staff receive a comprehensive orientation and ongoing professional education and support. Her nominator said it is a pleasure to watch the growth and development of staff under McKinnon’s tutelage.

McKinnon is said to cultivate critical thinking skills and nurture professional development, and she has honed the skill of recognizing talent, pruning insecurity and supporting the development of clinical knowledge, according to her nominator. She embraces any opportunity to reinforce the impact nurses have with each and every nurse-patient interaction, and while she has the admiration of new nurses, she has earned a deep respect from her colleagues. Nurses say they wouldn’t be who they are today if they hadn’t had the opportunity to learn from her.

As mentor and preceptor, McKinnon builds and reinforces the team’s knowledge and skills, helping to create an atmosphere of strength, stability and versatility. As someone who preemptively looks to circumvent problems before they occur, she monitors daily events closely and takes the necessary actions to solve problems and help others learn from them during safety huddles. In one best practice initiative, she collaborated with the interdisciplinary team, assembled a streamlined list of essential equipment items, developed a checklist for replacing them and rolled the initiative out to staff. In whatever she is involved in or leading, McKinnon creates an environment of collegiality, validating each member’s contributions and strengths and empowering the team to do its best, according to her nominator.

McKinnon enhances her own education and clinical competencies by participating in the advanced clinical ladder program, unit-based committees and the peer review committee, and she is certified in emergency nursing.

Karin S. Nevius, RN, CCRN, CPAN, CAPA: Clinical nurse educator, Suburban Hospital, Bethesda, Md.

Nominated by her CNO, Nevius is described as a wonderful nurse educator. She is respected by her colleagues and exemplifies the principle of always putting the patient first. Rarely without a smile, Nevius manages to deliver positive outcomes while bringing joy to those who have the privilege of working with her, said her nominator.

Nevius leads and coordinates staff education, playing a key role in supporting staff’s efforts to improve overall patient quality, safety and service. As a direct result of her efforts, 100 RN staff members have completed annual training and education requirements.

Nevius’ contributions in the form of her leadership in staff education in the PACU, pre-testing and peri-operative areas are commendable, and she goes above and beyond to contribute to the organization, said her nominator.

Nevius was the first chairperson of the hospital’s Professional Development Council, and under her leadership, the council took on a wide variety of projects. Among these, Nevius led the organization’s development and coordination of an education needs assessment process and the action planning based on the assessment results. She also led the broad organization’s efforts focused on education and enculturation as they relate to the newly developed nursing practice model. Nevius has been instrumental in the development of the facility’s new employee information and welcome packets, and she helped to review and analyze annual RN survey results and develop an action plan based on the responses.

Recognizing the importance of community health, Nevius assisted in the identification and coordination of community benefit programs and has been instrumental in the development of the facility’s nursing internal and external Web pages. She led staff education related to a recently developed and implemented peer review process for all levels of nursing, and she is a leader in the clinical ladder review and recognition process.

Angela Renkema, RN, BSN: Nurse educator, MedStar Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center

Nominated by two of her colleagues, Renkema oversees the clinical and professional development of more than 2,000 nurse associates and collaborates with her colleagues in facilitating nursing orientations and the nurse residency program.

A passionate advocate for geriatric patients, she promotes adherence to NICHE standards and worked collaboratively with the geriatric clinical specialist to develop the curriculum for the facility’s geriatric class.

Based on an evidence-based practice project on communication techniques with dementia patients completed by nurse residents, Renkema created and submitted a poster presentation, which was accepted for presentation at the 2014 NICHE conference in San Diego. She is admired for her ability to research a particular subject matter, investigate the content experts and present the topic in a clear and comprehensive manner.

Renkema was involved in the implementation of the sepsis screening tool and the integration of the process into the EMR. Her work on sepsis has helped to improve early recognition and treatment of sepsis, and sepsis rates have declined, said her nominator.

Described as a diligent nurse and team player, she is instrumental in the rollout of organizational initiatives, and leadership has recognized her steady support to staff and nurse residents. As the residents transition to professional nursing, Renkema assists them with clinical, professional and personal issues, sometimes using active questioning or real-life scenarios to help them in the process. She works to update the nursing orientation and nurse residency programs, provides valuable insights to unit leaders on the residents’ progress and collaborates with leaders to help residents succeed. To further develop staff confidence, assessment skills and critical thinking, Renkema is collaborating with a team to implement real-life clinical situations with the high-fidelity manikin.

Described as someone who wears many hats in the organization, Renkema serves on numerous committees and is a superuser and trainer for the facility’s computer system.

Chantel Skipper, RN, MSN, CPNP-AC, CPN: Professional practice specialist, Children’s National Health System, Washington, D.C.

Skipper is described by her nominator as someone who possesses strong professional commitment to and real joy for her work. Dedicated to ensuring that education programs reach staff through a variety of means, she records audio and visual education sessions, creates a bimonthly newsletter, implements bedside education and holds monthly unannounced simulations.

When faced with more challenging topics such as domestic and family abuse, Skipper created a program that included presentations by a social worker and informative videos, which were linked to the website so they could be viewed at any time.

To further enhance education provided by the hospital, she initiated a unit-specific preceptor program with continuing education credit and developed course content and facilitated classes for the care attendant certification program. She teaches hospital-wide safety classes and delegation and escalation classes for technicians and attendants and offers monthly neuro assessment classes for the pediatric nurse residency program.

As co-chairperson of the hospital’s nursing educator group, Chantel developed a bimonthly education newsletter that is distributed in paper format and electronically to keep staff informed and aware of unit and hospital updates.

On the unit level, Chantel is a member of the neuroscience shared nursing leadership committee, the education committee and the surgical care units shared nursing leadership committee. She serves as a consultant for the hospital’s comfort team and works with the culture of nursing excellence teams and the Pediatric Early Warning Signs multidisciplinary collaborative team. If that’s not enough, she is working with a nursing group to revise the current clinical ladder system.

Always willing to accept another challenge, she submitted a paper for publication on her work with the Pediatric Early Warning Signs collaborative, serves as an instructor for the University of Maryland and developed a mentoring program through a non-profit organization.

Marta Inga Vinroot, RN, MSN, PCCN, ACNP: PCU staff educator, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, Woodbridge, Va.

Vinroot’s passion is to teach nurses and advance the nursing profession. Whether in the hospital or in the community, Vinroot’s compassion for others and her joy of teaching is apparent to everyone, said her nominator. She provides staff with patient care education and hands-on training and instills in them compassion for their patients and confidence in their patient care. Concentrating her efforts on patients diagnosed with heart failure, Vinroot developed a two-hour class for the PCU’s RNs and nursing care partners.

Her nominator said she’s had the pleasure of watching Vinroot mentor young nurses with clinically difficult patients as well as those with difficult family situations, bringing a calm, gentle but confident demeanor to every situation. Since November 2013, there has been a steady decline in the heart failure readmissions at the facility, and Vinroot has been credited in part for this accomplishment and viewed as a key resource by the interdisciplinary team.

A certified heart failure nurse and a progressive care certified nurse, she has advanced the nursing profession by encouraging nurses to obtain specialty certifications, and she also has been instrumental in getting nurses engaged in the restructuring and instillation of multidisciplinary rounds on the units. Vinroot mentors charge nurses to elevate the level of critical thinking and clinical expertise of their staff. Encouraging team building and collaboration between nurses and nursing care partners, Vinroot implements real-time education, teaching critical thinking skills that apply to clinical situations. She is an advocate for nursing to obtain Magnet status and actively participates on various committees toward that goal.

Vinroot has an eagerness to learn and develop herself, and she possesses the ability to pass that excitement on to her colleagues and staff.


Tonya Faulkner, RN: Clinical coordinator, University of Maryland Medical Center at Easton, Md.

Faulkner is described by her nominator as an exceptional clinical nurse who is the heart and soul of the department, which includes endoscopy, short-stay, preop and infusion. She has earned the respect of staff, colleagues and physicians and has a very special relationship with patients.

She provides excellent relationship-based patient care and strives to ensure that every patient has a positive experience. Faulkner is credited for the unit winning the Shore Health System Patient Satisfaction Bowl several times over the past years.

Admired by her colleagues as a role model and mentor, she instills confidence in the interdisciplinary team members, creates a positive work environment and empowers others to excel. Encouraging staff to grow and develop as professionals, Faulkner fosters critical thinking and problem solving in nursing care, which ensures that patients receive exceptional care every day, said her nominator.

Always ready to help, she is frequently requested to help with an IV, blood patch, difficult or challenging endoscopy procedure, challenges in the PACU obtaining a hand-off communication report or transporting a patient. No job is too big or too small for her to handle and everyone relies on her expertise and her ability to handle any situation, said her nominator.

Faulkner believes that together the department can achieve greatness and excel in the delivery of perioperative care of every patient. A positive force through periods of planned and unexpected change, she always works to improve staff morale and engages them in the process of change.

Humble in her demeanor, Faulkner takes every opportunity to learn and develop her own clinical and leadership skills and has been recognized for her nursing excellence and leadership within the Shore Health System. She encourages lifelong learning, and her actions speak louder than her words. Faulkner will earn her BSN degree in the very near future and has inspired several of her colleagues to enroll as well.

Karen P. Hardingham, RN, BSN, CPST: MD CARES Program/Safe Kids Baltimore Coalition coordinator, University of Maryland Medical Center – Children’s Hospital, Baltimore

As pediatric outreach program coordinator, Hardingham leads the Safe Kids Baltimore Coalition and coordinates the Child Passenger Safety Seat program and Pediatric Advanced Life Support education, training about 20 multidisciplinary staff members and ensuring appropriate education for 30 instructors. Recognized as a community leader, she is passionate about providing safe care to children and preventing unintentional childhood injuries. In her advocacy role for better seat safety standards, she travels annually to Annapolis to testify on child car seat and seatbelt safety. She also works to provide car beds for Shore Medical Center and UMMC transport teams to ensure safe pediatric transport.

Appreciating every opportunity she has to promote safety, Hardingham has been working with the marketing staff on reaching more children and families about pediatric safety through enhanced social media communication. She coordinates PALS education for staff nurses, MDs and management and offers it to other healthcare providers in the region, and her sessions are consistently well received.

Hardingham writes an article for each publication of the Pediatric Press newsletter from the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital, and in addition, this year provided key information for a televised news story about hyperthermia risk for children. She participates in the Baltimore City Child Fatality Review team, which meets under the direction of the Baltimore City Health Department Commissioner, and then uses the information she gains to guide her many pediatric safety programs and activities. A major focus for the coalition in 2014 is to increase the awareness of parents with children under 5 years of age about the risks of airway obstruction and suffocation.

As demonstrated by all that her leadership provides for children, parents, teachers and healthcare professionals of Baltimore and beyond, Hardingham is the consummate advocate for the safety of children.

Theresa Pinto, RN, BSN, OCN: Staff nurse, The Washington, D.C., Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Pinto provides the best evidence-based care to her patients and their families and is committed to improving their lives, said her nominator. She is respected as a practice expert who works tirelessly to empower patients and improve patient outcomes.

When Pinto identifies an issue or an opportunity to improve care, she actively seeks a solution. Because of her collaborative work and research, a new practice has been initiated in the administration of intravenous immunoglobulin, resulting in patients no longer requiring a hospital admission or spending hours in the clinic. Rather, the outpatient administration takes about four hours.

Pinto identified that the DCVAMC did not have a cancer education/support group. Pinto researched, collaborated with peers in the cancer community and developed a group charter. She presented the charter to the oncology interdisciplinary team, and after suggestions were incorporated, the group was formed, with more than 35 patients who regularly participate.

Pinto’s expert nursing care has improved organizational performance at the facility and has impacted 132 VA cancer care programs across the country. She created the Cancer Care Education handbook that is now being used as a template for all VAs. Individualized for each patient, the handbook includes information about cancer diagnosis, treatment, side effects, diagnostic imagining, nutrition, complementary and alternative medicine and survivorship care. She presented an abstract discussing the handbook at the Association of VA Hematology and Oncology’s annual meeting and her work was also published in the Federal Practitioner journal.

Always seeking new knowledge to use in practice, she obtained more than 50 CEUs this year by taking courses from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Oncology Nursing Society and George Washington University. She also served as the co-investigator in the study, “Cost Savings Analysis for TeleHealth Outpatient Prostate Cancer Clinic Visits,” and she is the research nurse for two other projects.

Lisa C. Swank, RN, BSN: Emergency preparedness coordinator, Harford County Health Department, Bel Air, Md.

Accountable to the citizens in Harford County, Swank organizes the flu mist program for elementary schools and the employee flu shot program. She also creates health department teams that visit the county schools and educates them prior to the visits on the protocols she established. Swank is known to treat everyone with respect, and the program’s success is credited to her organized leadership.

Swank is recognized as someone who is competent, gives great attention to detail and inspires others with her professionalism and work ethic. She is always available to answer questions and help school nurses find appropriate emergency preparedness resources and services for the families in the county.

As a skilled data collector, she has developed spreadsheets each year that inform school nurses about the number of students who receive flu mist in comparison to previous years. Because of her efforts, the county’s RNs have been able to increase the number of students receiving the flu treatment in some of the needier schools and continue to provide influenza immunization for about 50 elementary school students. Every summer, Swank organizes a team meeting to discuss program improvements and problem areas that require attention prior to the start of school.

Described as collegial and collaborative, Swank responds quickly and efficiently to questions and phone calls and provides accurate and complete information in response. She is known to maintain a professional and positive attitude when working with department and community partners.

Swank works collaboratively with all county schools on daily attendance checks and community surveillance. Each morning, every school submits their attendance sheets and health data on known communicable conditions to Swank, who reviews the data for healthcare trends, issues and problems. Based on the RNs’ needs in the county, she provides support and in-service training and serves as an excellent resource at a moment’s notice, said her nominator.

Dawn Williams, RN, MSN: Director, clinical ambulatory operations, Dimensions Healthcare Associates, Cheverly, Md.

Williams is responsible for the daily operation of a number of ambulatory care clinics and accountable for incorporating the organization’s mission into the development of future clinics. She serves as a great motivator, model, visionary and leader for a staff of about 30. She is fair and consistent with staff, even when the job is extremely demanding, and because she is family-oriented, she respects her staff’s family needs.

Someone who genuinely cares for the community she serves, Williams consistently strives for excellence in herself and others. She is a positive, spiritual person who often offers words of hope to those who feel discouraged. She sets clear expectations and turns dysfunctional groups into functional ones through team-building. Most recently overseeing the successful opening of a much-needed ambulatory care program for an underserved community, Williams spent her own personal time and even finances to ensure that the grand opening was truly grand.

She has been in her recent role for a fairly short period of time, but she has worked diligently to get the job done and has made improvements that have had a positive impact on the community. Things she put into place that have made a measurable difference include a system for capturing potential as well as actual loss of revenue and a more efficient formalized process for contacting patients for scheduled appointments that has decreased “no-show” numbers and appointment cancellations.

Williams set clear expectations for her staff and engaged them to come up with a plan for a more professional atmosphere using basic and simple measures like scripted phone and in-person greetings and the use of color-coded staff uniforms. The actions brought positive feedback from patients and physicians and helped establish a new air of professionalism that previously had not been there.


Elaine Alexander, RNC-OB, MSN: Patient care director, NICU/FCC, Inova Alexandria (Va.) Hospital

Alexander is recognized as an outstanding leader who “sees more than others do, sees further than others see and sees things before others do,” said her nominator, who added that she touches everyone working under and around her with her charm, charisma and enthusiasm.

Described as a inspirational and visionary leader, Alexander has been instrumental in the hospital’s efforts and journey toward earning Baby-Friendly designation, and she is co-chairperson of a collaborative effort aimed at making the designation a systemwide one.

Extending herself into the community, she is part of the statewide Breastfeeding Coalition, and because exclusive breastfeeding is a perinatal core measure, Alexander has helped the facility position itself at the forefront of this national movement. After writing a breastfeeding policy, she was commended by Baby-Friendly USA for her development of the document.

Alexander has been influential in staff engagement, recognition and satisfaction, as well as in changing practices in maternal-child care with the implementation of the skin-to-skin initiative and 23-hour rooming in. Because of the focus on family education, all nursing staff complete 20 hours of online breastfeeding education and five hours of hands-on lactation education with certified lactation nurses.

The organization has received an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Care Award for 2013 and a system quality award for the Baby-Friendly quality initiative entitled, Off to the Breast Start, with only one other hospital in the state having earned this prestigious designation.

Alexander is said to motivate others to effect changes toward better patient care and systemic improvements, and she is admired as someone who has made the unit, hospital, system and community “much better because she has infected everyone with her unique brand of effectiveness and drive,” according to her nominator.

Zaitun Begam, RN-BC, BSN, ONC: Staff nurse, Inova Loudoun Hospital, Leesburg, Va.

Begam assumes multiple leadership roles, serving as a bedside nurse, a unit resource for medical, post-surgical and orthopedic nursing practice and charge nurse for the med-surg and oncology units. She coordinates on-boarding of new employees, shaped the development of the preceptor program, collaborates with four local university nursing schools and spearheaded the creation of the staff scheduling committee.

Gifted with the ability to collaborate with interdisciplinary teams in the creation of programs and processes that improve patient outcomes, Begam actively works with the Gallup team to improve employee engagement. As joint coordinator at the facility, she was instrumental in developing and implementing the joint replacement program, managing staff scheduling and creating an on-boarding program for new employees that resulted in increased staff retention. She currently is involved in the facility efforts to become a joint center of excellence.

Two years ago, the medical unit and post-surgical unit were joined to create the medical surgical unit, and Begam not only championed this integration but worked tirelessly to encourage staff members and unify the two units. She has provided leadership and strength and is inclusive and supportive to the MSU and oncology units.

Begam is admired for her exceptional talents as a nurse and her exemplary clinical leadership skills, said her nominator. At the highest level on the facility’s clinical nursing ladder, she serves on the ADVANCE committee and reviews applications and mentors nurses as they pursue advancement. As an active member of the diversity council, she models cultural sensitivity in her professional interactions with colleagues and in patient care.

Admired by everyone who knows her, Begam has coached, mentored, visited with, encouraged and cheered innumerable individuals, said her nominator.
Begam is actively involved in community health and participates in activities through the March of Dimes, the Walk to End Women’s Cancer and the American Heart Association.

Tabitha Whittington Evans, RN, BSN: Clinical care facilitator, MedStar Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center

On a 34-bed geriatric, medicine unit, caring for patients with significant psychosocial issues, Evans is proficient in the delivery of complex nursing care. She leads staff and manages patient care and serves as clinical expert, leader and outcomes manager. She is recognized as a professional role model who promotes an environment that supports excellence and professional practice.

Described by her nominator as an extraordinary person and a clinical professional who epitomizes nursing at its best, Evans remains calm under pressure, diligently caring for patients and staff and staying until the critical moments pass.

Evans knows how to encourage, praise and boost staff, said her nominator. She possesses a passion to help staff succeed, empowering new RNs and novice nurses and validating the importance of their roles in the organization. Evans is respected by her colleagues for her diligent work in creating a healthy work environment, for recognizing every nurse on the unit every day and engaging nurses in the development of nursing skills and competencies.

When the facility transitioned to an updated electronic medical record system, Evans created a checklist to assist nurses on the unit when navigating the new system, which helped to alleviate their anxieties and fears, and as a result of its success, it was adapted by other units.

Evans sees herself as a servant leader for others, and is admired for putting the needs of others before her own. She has a passion to lead and mentor, and she goes beyond having convictions to inspiring others with those convictions.

Described as an exceptional nurse leader and a generous unit mentor, Evans volunteers her time with adolescent girls, delivers food baskets to the less fortunate and accompanies young adults on community field trips. She is passionate in her work and promotes excellence in nursing.

Morgan Risley, RN-C, MSN: Clinical program manager, Howard County General Hospital, Columbia, Md.

Described by her nominator as someone who is perceptive, logical and conscientious in her knowledge and decision-making abilities, Risley has championed numerous causes and challenges on the unit and supported staff efforts to improve care.

Always willing to share her knowledge and experience with her colleagues, she led the team in the implementation of the Couplet Care initiative and served as the data manager on the Best Fed Beginnings initiative. A superuser champion in the EPIC project, Risley provided design and configuration input, submitted staff recommendations to the Epic Team, started a unit resource book and has remained focused on improvement changes as program optimization progresses.

Risley gives new staff a complete orientation guide and participates in the planning and educating of clinical competencies for all unit staff. Through consistent data collection, Risley closely monitored scheduling, assignments and nursing hours per patient day for six months, proving the need to increase the number of full-time equivalents. Her attention to service excellence is exemplary, and she organized and supports the Star Performer initiative for clinical staff.

Risley assisted in the remodeling of the unit to create a dedicated area for high-risk antepartum patient care, was instrumental in facilitating the training and testing needed for 60 RNs to earn their electronic fetal monitoring certification and registered and monitored the PeriFACTS education necessary for RNs to maintain EFM certification. Risley helped to champion staff education with the revised glucose protocol for large-for-gestational-age infants, the infant Secure Care security system, car seat testing for late preterm infants and, most recently, new electronic ID bands for newborns.

“She is an exemplary role model, setting an exceptional example in all she does in patient care, staff education and as a leader on the MCU,” said her nominator, who added that she is an inspiring and outstanding asset to the profession.

Dynette Rombough, RN, BSN, CPEN, MSN candidate: Clinical manager, Sentara Lake Ridge (Va.) Emergency Services/Sentara Lorton Marketplace Emergency Services, Woodbridge, Va.

Admired for her faithfulness to her patients, team, organization and profession, Rombough believes excellence in patient care is achieved through a team effort. She works at eliminating silos, encouraging interdepartmental communication and recognizing all departments as essential components of the patient experience. Rombough encourages staff members to grow in confidence and ability and empowers them to participate in the decision-making process and take ownership of the group vision.

Respected as a capable, professional and reliable nurse, Rombough was instrumental in setting up the two free-standing EDs from the physical layout, to interviewing and hiring staff, obtaining equipment and establishing workflow from a nursing perspective. Through her leadership skills, the Sentara Lake Ridge ED, budgeted to serve 22,000 patients, served almost 30,000 last year and was recognized systemwide with the Platinum award for customer service. Currently she is involved in the opening of another facility in Virginia.

Rombough credits her team for the facilities’ successes, and her nominator said that staff credits Rombough for work satisfaction and positive patient outcomes.

“She always has time to listen and when we need something, she gets it for us,” said one staff member. Rombough is said to be respectful and would never expect her staff to do anything that she wouldn’t do.

She is active in numerous committees and organizations, belongs to the Emergency Nurses Association and participates on the Code Stroke, ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction and ambulatory services teams.

She has spearheaded coat and food drives for churches in the community. Concerned with the safety of the area residents, Rombough and her team partner with the Prince William County Police Department every year in the national Drug Take-Back initiative, in which they collected more than 400 pounds of medications last year.


Ramon Amon, RNC, BSN, CRRN: Admissions manager, MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, Washington, D.C.

A trauma nurse who has worked with injured and disabled children for more than 25 years, Amon uses his extensive background in trauma and management in his role as manager of inpatient admissions at a large rehab network. His earlier experience in critical care and case management gave him a wealth of wisdom that he shares with his colleagues. Amon empowers others to embrace change, and with his strong understanding of the bigger picture promotes “systemness.” A past “Manager of the Quarter,” he is a teacher and mentor who shares knowledge as well as friendship.

Working on the belief that “people don’t care what you know if they don’t feel you care about them as human beings,” he takes a personal interest in everyone. His volunteer spirit leads him to share principles of nursing with new nurses that can be employed in everyday life. Called an “awesome advocate” both in and out of the system, he is not content to stay within the parameters of his work assignments.

Those who know him know about his charity work, and although difficult to get details on this aspect of his life because of his reluctance to talk about it, Amon is known for his special interest in helping others. Two recent examples were his charity work for those who suffered in the devastation of the Philippines earthquake where more than 10,000 died and another was his provision of funding to New Orleans during the national crisis there in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Closer to home, after the death of colleague in a tragic car accident, he raised funds to buy holiday gifts for the young children who survived her.

Amon believes that he is fortunate to have had the wonderful life he has and that it is a privilege to help others.

Yim Belote, RN, BSN, CCRN: RN III, Inova Loudoun Hospital, Leesburg, Va.

Volunteerism and service is part of Belote’s everyday life, and touching others’ lives and making even one small part of it better is her mission.

Through her affiliation with the Leesburg Community Church, she and a group of 600 volunteers organized and provided 150,000 meals along with monetary support of more than $37,000 to the needy of the Loudoun community. Through the Inova Mobile Health outreach program, Belote collects winter coats and regularly participates in their collections of toiletries for the homeless.

In support of the Boulder Crest Retreat for Wounded Warriors, she ran the 10K Trail Run, which generated $25,000. All year round and especially during the holiday seasons, Belote collects food for the Loudoun Interfaith Relief, which runs a large food bank in Loudoun County.

During the evening, she volunteers her time to the Loudoun Free Clinic, which serves uninsured and underprivileged citizens. Belote provides direct patient care and takes time to educate patients about their diseases and dietary and lifestyle changes they can make to improve their health.

Belote has traveled to Haiti and other regions after natural disasters, and this past May, she went on a medical mission trip to Jamaica through Trinity Christian Evangelical Ministries. In preparing for this and other mission trips, she gathers items such as books for children and other small first aid supplies. Belote never stops thinking about the ways she can meet the needs of others, said her nominator.

She embraces the spirit of volunteerism on a daily basis in the free-standing ED where she works. She has been known to go above and beyond in assisting patients and families to obtain the resources they need in the community, whether it be mental health advisors, chaplain services or assistance from the Women’s Resource Center and the Loudoun Free Clinic, and she has been recognized by others in the facility’s World of Difference program.

Jennifer Boyle Kuhl, RN, CCM: Clinical consultant, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Owings Mills, Md.

By day, Boyle Kuhl works as a pediatric case manager for CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield. By night, she is the singer in a band that has volunteered countless hours to entertain U.S. troops abroad. Having already volunteered for more than 10 tours, she has visited military bases in more 30 countries. She spends her time at hospitals where wounded soldiers are recovering, listening to and supporting the military men, as well as orphanages.

Boyle Kuhl has slept in tents and fallen asleep to the sounds of explosions in the distance. She has flown into war zones in the night, and she has attended numerous ceremonies for the fallen warriors. Her nominator says that she views this volunteer work as a privilege and uses her vacation time or goes on tour while on leave without pay. She volunteers her performance time during the weeks she is on tour, and she visits Walter Reed Medical Center and performs there whenever she can.

Her performances serve as music therapy for the men and women of U.S. Armed Forces stationed far from home or recovering from devastating injuries, said her nominator, who is a nurse and her mother. She has combined her passions for music and nursing, and the “therapeutic value of her volunteer efforts is immeasurable, because thousands of our troops and their families have had their spirits lifted and felt supported by Boyle Kuhl’s efforts,” said her nominator.

Boyle Kuhl embodies the empathetic, supportive, professional description of a nurse.

Heather Wilkerson, RN, BSN, CCRN: Advanced clinical nurse, cardiac ICU clinical nurse educator, John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore

Wilkerson is responsible for the annual competency assessment of the CICU registered nurses, organizes orientation of new staff RNs and teaches a intensive care course to new RN graduates. As well as being a valuable member of the healthcare team, Wilkerson has a strong commitment to help others in need, said her nominator.

Wilkerson serves as a licensed pastor for the Assemblies of God International Fellowship where she worked in the planning and opening of a second church campus. It required her recruiting leadership for various jobs and responsibilities, and because of Wilkerson’s efforts, the new campus grew and developed from about 40 people to more than 400 people.

She co-leads and hosts a small study group related to Christian-based life skills and mentors and serves as youth pastor, along with her husband, for senior high and young adults. The couple presents specific Christian-based education and mentorship related to issues like self-esteem and self-worth, family relationships and offer help with common stresses during the transition from youth to adult. Wilkerson provides counseling and individualized services for people who experience problems and crises like the sudden death of a parent from cardiac arrest, drug and alcohol related issues, unplanned pregnancies or problems related to law enforcement.

More recently, Wilkerson has helped start a group for the A21 Campaign, a non-profit organization that works to fight human trafficking, raises awareness about the issue and raises funds for local shelters. She opens her home to young adults in immediate need of food and housing, is a Sunday school teacher and leads a women’s ministry group.

Serving on numerous multidisciplinary committees, Wilkerson is well respected by all disciplines in the hospital. Generous of spirit and always willing to share her knowledge, she never fails to lend assistance to any of the other four adult ICUs as well as in the ED, said her nominator.

Alicia N. Young, RN, BSN: Charge nurse, Inova Heart and Vascular Institute, Falls Church, Va.

A bedside and charge nurse on a cardiac telemetry unit, Young cares for patients compassionately and supports seasoned staff and mentors new staff competently, said her nominator. Passionate about her work, she is respected by patients and staff, possesses a wealth of knowledge and has been recognized by her peers as the ”go-to” person for patient-care concerns or questions.

Young is an active member of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and also volunteers her time to read to children during storytime at KinderCare of Waldorf. She serves as a volunteer homework coach at William A. Diggs Elementary School and participates in follow-up correspondences with patients who are involved in the Go Red for Women Initiative through the American Heart Association. Unit-based initiatives are also beneficiaries of her service and commitment to others because she is often the first one to donate baked goods and food for the American Heart Walk fundraisers.

Her dedication and spirit of volunteerism to the community and to unit staff are exemplary. Young can often be found coaching her peers or giving instruction to student nurses on best practices. Her commitment to excellence is evident, and she is often seen attending RN service orientation, town hall and rewards and recognition meetings. Young encourages staff to emulate her example in providing excellent care and in encouraging and supporting others.

Young gives of her time in a variety of facility organizations, such as the cardiac telemetry clinical practice committee and the skin prevalence committee and in the campuswide informatics council and Magnet initiatives. She co-created a skills booklet to enhance staff knowledge in dressing changes for patients with ventricular-assist devices, and she has worked closely with the transplant team and VAD coordinators to improve current practices for these specialty patients. Young also works with the clinical practice committee to create new and improved care themes for the CTU specialty patient populations.

By | 2021-05-07T08:18:46-04:00 April 15th, 2014|Categories: Nursing Awards|0 Comments

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